The 50th Anniversary of the First George Lois Esquire Cover
Fast Company creative director Florian Bachleda has unearthed a classic story about that first Lois cover, and the Esquire publisher's worried response.
On the October 1962 Esquire cover, Lois accurately predicted that boxer Sonny Liston would defeat Floyd Patterson in their upcoming heavyweight championship fight. The cover depicts a boxer, wearing Patterson's shorts, lying knocked out on the canvass. Says Lois, "The press wrote about the chutzpah of calling a fight on a magazine cover, and the issue was a sellout."
In the wake of Liston's first round knockout of Patterson, it's hard to imagine, but that opinion at the time was decidedly in the minority. Lois pointed out the Publisher's Letter, which ran inside that October 1962 Esquire issue, to Florian Bachleda, and he and passed it along to SPD. In it they take Lois's cover to task, disavowing his prediction and saying "we'd prefer to believe that Liston can be stopped, and that Patterson is the one that can do it." And it's not a passing comment; half the letter is devoted to criticizing Lois's cover choice. It's a pointed lesson to the fact, as Bachleda says, "that designers should stick to their guns."
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